Anti-drink-driving lobby launches legal centre to help victims

Anti-drink-driving lobby launches legal centre to help victims

Anti-alcohol activists stage a rally to raise public awareness about the dangers of drink driving at Victory Monument on July 15, 2019. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Anti-alcohol activists stage a rally to raise public awareness about the dangers of drink driving at Victory Monument on July 15, 2019. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

A key anti-drink-driving advocacy group on Thursday launched a centre to provide drink-driving victims with legal assistance and advice in dealing with irresponsible and dishonest drivers.

The centre for helping drink-driving victims is open around the clock for parties affected by a drink-driving case to seek advice and free legal assistance, said Thaejing Siripanit, secretary-general of the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation.

The centre has lawyers who will volunteer to help drink-driving victims cope with legal hassles and tactics they may encounter in their fights for justice, said the doctor.

“From my experience in campaigning against drink-driving for 23 years, many people are out there driving under the influence, despite the law prohibiting drink-driving,” he said.

In many cases, victims of these irresponsible drivers ended up being victimised again when the drivers exploited legal loopholes to avoid prosecution for drink-driving and paying compensation to victims, he said.

These include avoiding a blood alcohol test, intentionally delaying legal prosecution until the statute of limitations expires, and offering victims some money along with the threat that if they want more than that they will have to take their case to court, he said.

Other tactics used by lawyers representing these drivers included luring victims into signing a blank consent form, lobbying to make a drink-driving incident a contributory negligence accident to avoid paying victims compensation and offering to pay compensation to victims in installments, which the driver subsequently failed to pay, he said.

The Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) said blood samples from drink-driving suspects will arrive at its laboratories across the country within four hours, a window which still ensures accuracy in results of blood alcohol tests.

The department has laboratories offering the Headspace gas chromatography test whose results are normally available in two days in centres such as Nonthaburi, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Songkhla, said Opas Kankawinphong, director-general of the DMS.

The Royal Thai Army, meanwhile, announced plans to open 370 service points at military camps nationwide for people travelling during the New Year festival. Services that will be provided free from Dec 27 until Jan 2 include rest areas, drinking water, first aid, mobile phone battery recharging and massage.

Aside from military personnel, volunteers from the royally-sponsored Jit Arsa volunteer programme will be working to serve travellers around the clock during the festive period, said Col Sirichan Ngathong, deputy spokeswoman for the army.

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